Monday, April 2, 2012

Blood and Honor by Reinhold Kerstan

Reinhold Kerstan recalls his experiences from 8 - 14 years old in Germany during and after World War II.

I heard over and over again that a German boy does not weep.

None of the older people would understand, our leaders had told us.

All relationships were reduced to to two words, "Heil Hitler!"

A few months after we arrived in Berlin I started school.  Until then our ...home life... had shaped most of my thinking.  Now the state was to have its chance.

War was a way to restore what had been taken from us.

Marching back to the Villa, we passed many Czechs dressed in their Easter attire. I usually resented the disgust and hate I found on their faces, but that morning I understood.... Somewhere inside me a seed of rebellion began to take root. 

"It's your pope who's dead.  Your big leader.  The Fuehrer."
Very slowly the words sank into my consciousness.  What had he said?  The Fuehrer dead?  A lie! A big lie! The Fuehrer couldn't die.  That could happen to other human beings, but not to the Fuehrer!

"The nerve of you brown-shirted Nazies coming back to haunt us!"
"You know who started it all?  The Austrian, Adolf Hitler, your native son."

We very quickly grew accustomed to three good meals a day.

Every city looked the same-- frightened old people, hollow-eyed children wandering through the debris, hastily built shelters, and the stench of death.  The war had ended six months ago, and winter would grip the country within weeks.

On the third day home, mother and I went to a government office to try to get a ration card for me.  After three offices and many hours, all we got was a reprimand.  
"You should have known better, Mrs. Kerstan, than to bring your son back illegally!"

I had learned the American pronunciation, which horrified my English teacher.

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